Aarto: 'Municipalities miss the point'
Local government has called for the Administrative Adjudication of Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act to be scrapped, since it is resulting in a loss of income from traffic fines.
The Justice Project SA (JPSA) says this proves that municipalities view traffic fines as taxation.
“Justice Project South Africa wishes to voice its disgust over the attitude that has been adopted by the municipalities of SA, represented by SALGA [South African Local Government Association], who have clearly come to believe that traffic law enforcement is about making money - not ensuring road safety.”
Media reports say the City of Joburg lost R150 million and Tshwane R40 million in income from fines, and SALGA resolved, at its national conference, to ask the Department of Transport to scrap Aarto, because it is not functioning and is having a negative impact on municipal revenue.
SALGA did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
The reported loss or shortfall of R208 million, of R460 million budgeted as an income from traffic fines by the JMPD in the 2011/12 financial year, was cited as a reason for the Aarto Act to be scrapped.
[EMBEDDED]JPSA national chairperson Howard Dembovsky explains, however, that only Aarto infringement notices issued on the national traffic system (eNaTIS) are valid, and this is where the problem lies.
He adds that only a very small proportion of the infringement notices issued by the JMPD are issued on the eNaTIS system, which forms part of the Aarto process. “Therefore, the Aarto Act has little or no influence over the outcome of the issue or collection of these fines.”
Infringement notices issued on the eNaTIS system follow the Aarto process, wherein a courtesy letter and, subsequently, an enforcement order is issued if the infringer does not pay within the first 32 days, “but the JMPD has purposefully isolated itself from this system”, says Dembovsky.
“The vast majority of Aarto infringement notices issued by the JMPD are issued on a system developed for the JMPD by TMT Services, and these infringement notices are, therefore, in no way associated with the Aarto processes, as they never proceed beyond an infringement notice.”
The JPSA also highlights the fact that the JMPD has, since June, been violating the Act by sending infringement notices via ordinary mail instead of registered mail, as the Act prescribes.
“People have no doubt become wise to the unlawful behaviour of the JMPD over the past two years and have realised that since the JMPD cannot prove that they have lawfully served infringement notices on them, nothing can or will happen if they simply ignore them.
“This would explain the so-called 'loss' way better. The JMPD has, therefore, been the master of its own destiny, and in typical form, now wishes to blame everyone and everything other than themselves for their own criminal actions and shortcomings.”
“It is clear that the Aarto Act is most certainly in direct conflict with the agendas of municipalities, given that a points-demerit system would almost certainly diminish the pool of 'taxable' motorists, and given that the suspension of their driving licences is intended to remove delinquent motorists from our roads,” says Dembovsky.
He explains that the Act, if properly implemented, will help greatly with improving road safety.
“The fact that road fatalities cost the fiscus somewhere in the order of R40 billion and the economy over R200 billion per annum seems to be of no concern to SALGA and the municipalities that belong to it, and it is very sad indeed to see that they are prepared to demand the scrapping of legislation that could address some of the carnage on our roads so as to continue to line their collective pockets.”
With the Aarto system, drivers earn demerit points when they commit traffic offences, and this will be reflected on the National Contravention Register on eNaTIS. After 12 demerits are gained, a driver's licence will be suspended.